I am a GEO Junky. I started in the geothermal business back when there was no geo in the west-central United States. First, as a farmer wanting self-sustainable living from the land, I installed a geothermal system in my own home. Then as a contractor helping others obtain the same goal. After 20 years of making mistakes and experimenting to make systems work at peak performance, I attended North Dakota State University for an engineering degree. You might ask, "Why the engineering degree?" As a contractor and farmer with no formal education in HVAC or geothermal, there were many questions that I could not find answers for. College provided those answers and sparked an interest in what lies below the earth's surface and how we could capture that vast energy. Yes, oil and gas come from the earth, but I did not want to destroy that energy resource; I wanted to move energy. I wanted to learn how to harness the energy withing the earth in the most efficient way.
Taking the next step, I wanted to help educate others on how they can become more self-sufficient. And even though I work as an instructor certifying installers, I had considered writing a book. Lack of time kept me from putting pen to paper, but after meeting Don Lloyd, I felt that I could fulfill that goal by contributing to this book. If I was to write my own book, this is the book I would've written. It's not a how-to manual for installing a geothermal system, but a book that contains everything a homeowner needs to know to make an informed decision on geothermal for his/her home. And it is critical that the homeowner understands the basic facts. With all the various forms of geothermal systems available and the multitude of variables of each home site, I've not yet seen a cookie-cutter approach. One size does not fit all.
One of the most important lessons is that quality comes with a price; cheap does not last. A perfect example is that of a building contractor who went for the low bid from an HVAC subcontractor. Six months later, the homeowners felt the heat pump was not performing well and there was a noise between the main floor and the sheet rock ceiling of their basement. As the manufacturer of their GeoFurnace heat pump, I was called in because the HVAC contractor wouldn't make the service call. After cutting holes in their basement ceiling, we discovered that the hanging material used for holding the ductwork in place had failed and parts were lying on the sheetrock, blowing back and forth as the heat pump ran. Lack of proper fasteners along with the overall poor quality of installation was the issue. The home-building contractor learned his lesson, at the homeowner's expense.
By studying the information found in the pages of this book, you—the consumer—will not become a victim of a poor geothermal installation. Just as farmers envision themselves as caretakers of the earth, so are you. Why burn, waste and pollute when a far superior heating and cooling method is available? The coming generations will thank us for our foresight.
A final note: although this book is written primarily for homeowners, geothermal industry professionals (installers, trainers and designers) will benefit from a number of chapters, especially Part II – Unraveling the Technology and Science. Builders and architects will also find this book a handy tool for themselves and their clients.
Michael Hunt, President